A Moerewa grandmother who was fed up with having to take her mokopuna to Paihia, Kawakawa and Kerikeri to give them a taste of Christmas while their own town missed out year after year has decided to do something about it.
Pamela-Anne Simon-Baragwanath said she recalled parades and Christmas events in the main street when she was growing up in Moerewa.
"Even my own children grew up in Moerewa with amazing Christmas celebrations, but now it seems like years ago when we had an event here. It's like we've been forgotten so it's up to us to put something on for our kids, to create good memories for them too," she said.
"Times are really tough now, so tough it reminds me of the 80s when Rogernomics took a lot of businesses and state-owned enterprises away from bustling towns like Moerewa."
Simon-Baragwanath, who is co-ordinating this weekend's Christmas at the Marae event in Moerewa, said she couldn't solve the town's methamphetamine or poverty problems, "but at least we can give the kids a great day of fun, laughter and joy".
The main event would run from 10am to 2pm this Saturday at Otiria Marae and feature giveaways, a talent show, face painting, rides, bouncy castles, a biggest tuna (eel) competition (register by 11am on the day), egg and spoon races and a giant Jenga game, while the adults would compete in a bake-off (text 027 911 5580 to register).
A Christmas tree decorating competition for local schools on Friday evening aimed to get children involved in the marae, she said.
She hoped it would become an annual event hosted by a different community venue each year. Everyone was welcome and all attractions would be free of charge, with the exception of the hangi ($10) which was a fundraiser for Otiria Rugby Club.
Kaumatua and kuia would be catered for with a covered area on the wharekai deck with a view of the main stage. A creche area will be available for parents of small children.
Otiria Marae is on Kingi Rd, off Otiria Rd just outside Moerewa.
■ We're not going to spoil any surprises by revealing Santa's identity but we can tell you he will arrive in a Cadillac instead of a sleigh, and any kids who want a photo with the big guy in red won't sit on Santa's lap but next to him on a Harley Davidson.